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Uterine fibroid symptoms and the treatment to relieve chronic pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and other symptoms of fibroid tumors
Fibroid tumors are noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. While fibroids do not always cause symptoms, their size and location can lead to problems for some women including pain and heavy bleeding. They typically improve after menopause when the level of estrogen, the female hormone that circulates in the blood, decreases dramatically. However, menopausal women who are taking supplemental estrogen (hormone replacement therapy) may not experience relief of symptoms.
Uterine fibroids – also called myoma, leiomyoma, leiomyomata and fibromyoma – range in size from very tiny to the size of a cantaloupe or larger. In some cases, they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a 5-month pregnancy or more. Fibroids may be located in various parts of the uterus.
There are 3 primary types of uterine fibroids:
Uterine fibroids are very common, although often they are very small and cause no problems. From 20 to 40 percent of women age 35 and older have uterine fibroids of a significant size. African American women are at a higher risk for fibroids: as many as 50 percent have fibroids of a significant size.
Depending on location, size and number of fibroids, they may cause heavy, prolonged menstrual periods and unusual monthly bleeding, sometimes with clots. This often leads to anemia. There are several signs and symptoms of fibroid tumors.
Fibroids are usually diagnosed during a gynecologic internal examination. Your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam to feel if your uterus is enlarged. The presence of fibroids is most often confirmed by an abdominal ultrasound. Fibroids also can be confirmed using magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) imaging techniques. Ultrasound, MR and CT are painless diagnostic tests. Appropriate treatment depends on the size and location of the fibroids, as well as the severity of symptoms.
Most fibroids do not cause symptoms and are not treated. When they do cause symptoms, a drug therapy often is the first step in the treatment for fibroids. This might include a prescription for birth-control pills or other hormonal therapy, or the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. In many patients, symptoms are controlled with these fibroid tumor treatments and no other therapy is required. Some hormone therapies do have side effects and other risks when used long-term so they are generally used temporarily. Fibroids often grow back after therapy is discontinued.
The next step is to try more invasive therapy. The most common treatment options are listed below.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is considered to be very safe. However, there are some associated risks, as there are with almost any medical procedure. Most women experience moderate to severe pain and cramping in the first several hours following the procedure. Some experience nausea and fever. These symptoms can be controlled with antibiotics. It also has been reported that there is a 1% chance of injury to the uterus, potentially leading to hysterectomy. These complication rates are lower than those of hysterectomy and myomectomy.
A small number of patients have entered into menopause after embolization. This is more likely to occur if the woman is in her mid-forties or older, and is already nearing menopause.
Myomectomy and hysterectomy also carry risks including infection and bleeding leading to transfusion. Patients who undergo myomectomy may develop adhesion's causing tissue and organs in the abdomen to fuse together, which can lead to infertility. In addition, the recovery time is much longer for abdominal myomectomy, generally 1 to 2 months.
You should talk with your doctor about possible risks of any procedure you may choose.
If you think you have fibroids, please consult your physician or call 865.305.6970 or and let us make an appointment for you.